Misquotations, Flat Belly, Beacon of Tolerance

Issue 817 » November 21, 2014 - Muharram 28, 1436

Living The Quran

Muhammad (Muhammad) - Chapter 47: Verse 4

"So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah - never will He waste their deeds."

Certain verses of the Quran have been tossed around by radicals and by Islamophobes alike, alleging that there is some Quranic support for violent activity. The slightest familiarity with the verses in question would demonstrate that nothing could be further from the truth.

This above verse is perhaps the most outrageous of all misquotations. A phrase in the middle of a passage about battle is ripped out of its context and presented ludicrously as, “When you meet disbelievers, smite their necks.” To even the most casual reader who bothers to glance at the passage, the verse is talking about a meeting in mutual battle between warriors (Ar. “fi’l-muharabah” as al-Baydawi (d.685H) explains) that comes to an end “when the war lays down its burdens” as the verse itself states. This verse is specifically discussing mutual battle with those disbelievers engaged in warfare as noted by Ibn Jareer al-Tabari. This is clear from the opening line of the chapter which states, “Those who disbelieve and prevent people from the path of God“, which as Ibn Abbas has stated, is in reference to the pagans of Quraysh, who oppressed the believers by denying them the freedom to practice their faith and then went to war with them to exterminate their community.

With respect to the phrase, “until the war lays down its burdens“, Imam Qatadah (d.117H) explained it saying, “until the enemy warriors lay down their burdens” – a phrase that was echoed by many scholars throughout history, including Ibn Qutaybah al-Daynuri (d.276H). Note also that this verse provides Muslims with only two options for prisoners of war – unconditional release or acceptance of ransom. The verse mentions no other option, and indeed scholars have pointed out that this is the general rule, for the Prophet Muhammad only punished those war criminals guilty of treachery or gross violations, but otherwise he almost universally would pardon people even his most ardent opponents, as he did with the war chief Thumamah ibn Uthal, Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, Habbar ibn al-Aswad, Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl, Umayr ibn Wahb, Safwan ibn Umayyah, Suhayl ibn Aamir, and the list goes on.

Compiled From:
"Top Five Misquotations Of The Qur’an" - M. Nazir Khan

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Flat Belly

The vast majority of diseases are related to our diet and the Islamic lifestyle as prescribed by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is an ideal course of prevention for many diseases, including those of the heart. The Prophet disliked excessive eating. He lived with a flat belly and he died with a flat belly. He is reported to have said:

"No man fills a vessel worse than his stomach. A few morsels are enough for the son of Adam (human being) to keep his back upright. But if he must eat more, then he should fill one-third of his stomach with food, one-third with drink and leave one third-empty for the air (for easy breathing)." [Al-Tirmidhi]

It is important to exercise moderation in our eating habits. Limiting the consumption of food results in a tender heart, a strong intellect, a humble self and it weakens desires. Excessive eating brings about the opposite of these praiseworthy qualities.

Two of the most important aspects of Islam are Salah and Dhikr and these are equally important as part of a healthy lifestyle as the Prophet advised:

"Dissolve and digest your food through the process of remembrance of Allah and offering of prayers." [Abu Nuaym]

It is for this reason that the five obligatory prayers are arranged as they are. Traditionally, the Dhuhr and Isha prayers are offered after a meal and these are longer, allowing us to gently exercise the body and prevent us from sleeping immediately after meals. The wisdom behind this was explained by the Prophet:

"Do not go to bed immediately after the meals; it will harden your heart. Avoid any hard or large quantum of exercise immediately after meals; it will also cause damage." [Abu Nuaym]

The quality of the food we eat affects both our physical and spiritual health. It is important to eat pure food that has been obtained using Halal income.

Part of the reason that the hearts of Muslims are destroyed is because we are no longer careful about choosing food that is pure. Instead of eating homemade food filled with barakah, we prefer fast food, which in the words of Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, is "made with haste and waste, two attributes of the devil."

It is important for us to be conscious of the purity of the food we are eating for the sake of the physical and spiritual health of our hearts.

Compiled From:
"The Intelligent Heart, the Pure Heart" - Gohar Mushtaq, pp. 40-42


Beacon of Tolerance

In arts and agriculture, learning and tolerance, Al-Andulus was a beacon of enlightenment to the rest of Europe. In the fertile valleys of the Guadalquivir and the Guadiana rivers as well as the terraced slopes of the Alpujarras, agriculture surpassed anything elsewhere on the continent. Moorish filigree silver-and leatherwork became famous throughout the Mediterranean. In engineering the skill of the Spanish Moors had no parallel, and the splendor of their architecture was manifest in the glorious mosque of Cordoba, the Giralda and Alcazar of Seville, and the Alhambra of Granada. Its excellence in art and literature, mathematics and science, history and philosophy defined this brilliant civilization.

Among its finest achievements was its tolerance. Jews and Christians were welcomed, if not as equals, then as full-fledged citizens. They were permitted to practice their faith and their rituals without interference. This tolerance was in keeping with the principles of the Koran, which taught that Jews and Christians were to be respected as 'peoples of the Book' or believers in the word of God. Jews and Christians were assimilated into Islamic culture, and occasionally, Moorish leaders helped to build Christian houses of worship.

Compiled From:
"Dogs of God: Columbus, the Inquisition, and the Defeat of the Moors" - James Reston Jr., pp. 7, 8